NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher Lessons
• Turtles Times Three...Turtles are vertebrates that have been in existence for nearly 230 million years. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Some biologists estimate that there are approximately 245 turtle species. They inhabit a wide variety of habitats including lakes, rivers, and swamps, marine ecosystems and terrestrial environments. They come in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes. Their varying body designs allow them to traverse either dry rocky terrains, or zip through fast currents in the ocean, or lurk among the sea grass beds of brackish areas.
• Turtle Nesting...The seven species of sea turtle are: 1) green, 2) flatback, 3) hawksbill, 4) Kemp's ridley, 5) leatherback, 6) loggerhead and 7) olive ridley. In North Carolina, we find the green, hawksbill, Kemp's ridley, leatherback, loggerhead and green sea turtles, which make up some of the most beautiful and mysterious aquatic reptiles. Crawling up onto the beaches in the depth of darkness at night, they dig holes for their nests, deposit their eggs, and return to the sea - never to see their young. Sea turtles nest predominantly in the summer months and return to the beaches anywhere between 2 and 7 times over a season to lay their eggs. The nests are abandoned and should the eggs survive, the hatchlings must make the dash of their lifetimes to the safety of the sea. Between their nest and the water, a myriad of predators and obstacles make their survival an almost impossible feat. Many conservation groups around the world work to protect the sea turtles' nests and help to ensure the safety and successful trip to the ocean. This is a long and tedious and even expensive effort.